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Hacking Elance: How I Made Over $20,000 in 4 Weeks Doing Web Design

Hacking Elance: How I Made Over $20,000 in 4 Weeks Doing Web Design

At 24, I quit my dead-end restaurant job and launched a SAT test prep company. Things were going great and business was going well, but preparing students for a comprehensive exam is no easy task: it’s actually quite exhausting. Gradually I began to wonder if there was anything I could do that would:

a.) Allow me to work remotely, so I could take my work with me and have much more freedom.

b.) Pay me more money in less time.

I thought about it for a few weeks, and then it came to me!

“Hey, I can make a basic website. Maybe I can make money doing that. Then I can just stay at home.”

I didn’t really know where to start, so I just opened up an account on Elance to see if I could start pulling clients. I knew I could be a decent web designer if I just could figure out how to leverage myself and be seen in the crowded marketplace. That, my friends, was only half the battle.

As you read through this guide, think about it from your own perspective, with your own skills in mind. Web design is just an example/placeholder that can be changed out for almost any other skill set that you choose to leverage.

Here’s the breakdown:

It’s not as easy as showing up

Outsourcing is one of the biggest challenges facing Americans in the growing international workforce. In every field, from manufacturing to technology, someone with a comparable (or superior) skill set is willing to do the same work as you for drastically lower cost. It’s just the way things are these days. The minute I logged on to Elance, I was met with the crushing realization that there were literally over 200,000 other freelance designers (most of whom were more skilled), all looking for the same jobs at the same time.

This was going to be much harder than I thought.

How was I going to get clients when I was competing with all the freelance designers in the world, not on the value and quality I provided , but with price? I couldn’t compete with their low fees: my rent is $1,100, so I really couldn’t afford to spend hours on a $300 website. I was at a loss.

And then, it occurred to me: I needed to become a “premium service provider”. Is Mercedes Benz bashful about charging $80,000 for an E-Class? I think not. They are widely perceived as a luxury brand and come with ridiculous customer service to justify their price point.  That’s the bracket I needed to aim for. But was it even possible? Could I even do something like that on Elance? I hoped so.

First, I needed to test my assumptions. Think about how you can apply testing to your unique situation.

Setting up the test

I designed a test to answer two primary questions:

  1. “Exactly what strategies do my successful competitors use to stand out in the crowd?”
  2. “How can I completely obliterate them by being ridiculously overprepared?”

Testing assumptions had worked pretty well for me in setting up the test prep endeavor—setting up small classes first, tweaking them and seeing what worked—but until I actually went out there and did it, I didn’t truly understand the value of feedback. Now I know that feedback is literally the difference between success and failure. Testing allows you to determine if a business will work without risking failure.

Here’s how I structured the test:

1.) I set up a dummy account in order to create a fake posting looking for web developers. The purpose behind this was to find out exactly what types of proposals other developers were submitting. Here’s what the posting looked like:

Screen Shot 2013-05-22 at 2.25.03 PM

     

    2.) None of the copy in the ad is random: everything has a strategic purpose, intended to find something out about my competition. A few tactical things to notice here:

    • The budget is high. According to Elance stats, most jobs go for around $1,000 across the board, so why put the price point so high? I wanted to attract the best possible candidates. What I’ve found both anecdotally and through personal experience is that high prices often scare off underperformers. It’s part of the whole “the cream rises to the top” mentality—I was curious about which contractors identified themselves as “worthy” of a $10,000 job, and see what they had to offer. Theoretically, these should be the best proposals.
    • The job is marked as “fixed price”—I wanted to see what rates they would throw at me and what negotiation tactics they would use.
    • I was very clear with my needs and the range of skill sets required to do the job. Ironically, these are the skill sets that I had and was trying to leverage, so I was looking for people with identical credentials to see what I was up against.

    I sat back and popped a bag of Orville Redenbacher as things began to get interesting.

    The results are in…

    Within 30 minutes, I received 71 proposals from all over the world. All things being equal, this means that each applicant had a 1.4% chance of being hired. Of course, my goal was to figure out how to shift these odds dramatically, but more on that later.

    Now it’s time to put ourselves in the shoes of a prospective client. Just based on initial impressions, before reading any of the actual proposals that were submitted, here are my observations (be sure to look at the breakdown by region):

    Advertising

    1. The lion’s share (50+%) of the bids were from India and South Asia
    2. North American applicants constituted about 25% of the bids
    3. The rest of the world made up the last 25%

    Now compare the sample data above with the lifetime hiring data provided by Elance:

    Screen Shot 2013-05-22 at 3.04.42 PM

      With over 1.5 million jobs awarded since the site’s inception, North America completely blows every other country off the map. The next closest is Australia, with barely over 150,000 jobs awarded. If we take a step back and think about what this means, it’s pretty easy to spot an imbalance between the types of people applying for jobs, and the ones doing the hiring.

      English-speaking Americans do (mostly) all the hiring, and every other country does (almost) all the labor. It’s actually a pretty familiar pattern, don’t you think?

      Native English speakers WANT to work with other English speakers who can easily understand their needs. The problem most American freelancers run into on Elance is that since their rates are naturally higher due cost of living, they miss out on jobs by getting ruthlessly lowballed by foreigners using the volume approach.

      I knew that the Americans doing the hiring WANTED to hire other Americans, but were resistant to higher American prices; I was attempting to find out how could I remove this objection and make price a non-issue.

      Reading the proposals

      I’d already learned a ton of information just looking at the distribution curve of applicants, but now it was time to do the actual dirty work—reading the proposals. Remember my first objective: figure out exactly what the successful competition was doing.

      When I opened my Elance inbox, the first feelings I had were those of nausea. I knew right away that I didn’t want to and WASN’T going to read through all 71 proposals—I just couldn’t—but I did notice certain elements of proposals that made them stand out. Here’s what I found that helped me narrow down which ones I would even bother reading:

      1. “Sponsored Proposals”: freelancers can buy monthly credits, which they use to be able to submit more proposals. These credits can also buy a “Sponsored Proposal” which sticks to the top of the page. No matter how many bids the job gets, their proposal will stay at the top, and only 3 contractors per job may be sponsored. I always looked at these for two reasons: First, I knew they were already making a small investment in me by paying to show their bid. Second, with almost 100 proposals to sift through, it was impossible to forget them.
      2. Copy/Pitch: If they hooked me in the first line or two of their proposal with something interesting, I’d read the whole thing. This got harder as I went along, so it helped if they were one of the first 20 applicants or so.
      3. Specific reference to the project I posted, not a generic copy-paste job. This also gave me a good idea of how proficient they were at English. I just don’t feel like dealing with a communication barrier.
      4. Price point: This is important, but for different reasons than you may expect. If someone was ridiculously low, I’d instantly forget about them. I’m not looking for bottom feeder prices and bottom feeder results. I can only speak for myself, but I suspect I’m not the only one. Lowballing me won’t work. High prices, on the other hand, would sometimes catch my eye, first as more of an “are they out of their mind”? But more often than not, it would actually draw me to their pitch, then their profile to see if they met the other criteria listed above. Even if I wasn’t prepared to spend that much, it got my attention. It made me wonder what makes them so special; this realization was key when I was devising my strategy later.
      5. Skill set: I didn’t think this would be the last thing I looked at, but it was. Surprisingly, I only considered people’s skills after they passed the other 4 criteria.

      Just for fun, here are some of the worst proposals I got (with some notes):

      Elance 1

        This guy shot me TWO messages:

        Elance 2

          This girl… sweet, but no thanks:

          Screen Shot 2013-05-22 at 4.17.57 PM

            Once I applied all of these criteria, my pool of applicants was cut down significantly from an original pool of 71, to 10-12 who really had all the right qualities to take the project and run with it.

            So how was I supposed to choose between all those seemingly equally-qualified candidates and decide who I was going to award the job to?

            Personal interaction—they had to sell me.

            I found that when it came down to it, if everyone had similar qualifications, so the only determining factor I could use to make a decision was personality. I had to actually LIKE the person. To LIKE someone, I need to feel like I have a relationship with them, even if I’ve just met them. Most applicants didn’t take my feelings into account and certainly didn’t seem to care about building a relationship. I’m not just a piece of man-meat: I have feelings too.

            Once I realized that the secret to hiring someone else was whether I liked them or not, I immediately got to work creating a strategy for my own campaign designed with one purpose only: to make myself completely irresistible to prospective clients as quickly as possible.

            Identifying which clients to pitch a proposal to

            Before I spent time and energy pitching randomly to every client that posted a job, I took time to narrow down the best candidates

            I’m not just looking for any client; I’m looking for the right client. That’s a subtle distinction, but it’s very important. I needed to find postings that showed evidence of reliable behavior on behalf of the client. I also needed to see indicators that I’d get the price I was looking for. Typically, I don’t find it worth my time to do a website for any less than $1,000. Here are some examples of ideal candidates that I would pitch to, along with notes:

            Example 1:

            Advertising

            Job-example-1-1024x565

              Example 2:

              Screen-Shot-2013-04-30-at-12.21.09-PM

                Example 3:

                example-2

                  Example 4:

                  example-4

                    Doing client research

                    After I selected who I was going to pitch to, I did detailed research so that I could approach them correctly.

                    Client history/research:

                    1.) Purchase history:

                    • Look for clients who have already used Elance frequently and have spent a decent amount of money.
                    • 3 and 4 green dots are a good indicator that they are serious buyers.

                    2.) Feedback history (extremely important):

                    If they have already purchased on Elance and have given feedback/reviews on past freelancers, this information is GOLDEN. Go to the profile of the potential client and look for information that will help you personalize the proposal as much as possible.

                    • Things they liked about past freelancers
                    • Complaints about past freelancers

                    3.) After you determine what they think about past freelancers, look for other personal details.

                    • Personal details to looks for:
                    • Their name
                    • Profession
                    • Location
                    • Likes/dislikes
                    • Hobbies
                    • Any other relevant info

                    Use this information to create a completely customized proposal. In your pitch, casually throw in information that’s highly relevant to them, but doesn’t seem like you’re doing it on purpose.

                    Making myself irresistible by being WAY overprepared

                    The basic premise of the next step is to create a personalized presentation for the prospective client that shows you’ve taken their needs into careful consideration, then proactively come up with solutions to their problems. Now, you might think that since there’s no physical meeting between you and the prospective client, this type of technique wouldn’t be applicable. Dead wrong.

                    You know what I noticed after reviewing all the pitches I received during my test? There was not ONE video proposal. Not a single one. I don’t know why this is. Maybe people aren’t comfortable in front of the camera, or maybe nobody’s thought of it (in which case, I’m shooting myself in the foot with this article).

                    Either way, since I’d determined that building a relationship was the fastest way to book a job, and face-to-face is the fastest way to build a relationship, I started testing video proposals.

                    Holy shit. The results were insane.

                    But first, the formula:

                    Creating the video pitches: How to develop the right “feel” for your video submissions:

                    People love stories, so you must create a story that they feel emotionally connected to. As you progress, you will find the right groove and your own personal narrativethis basic framework is a great starting place, and eventually you can improvise as you become more comfortable.

                    Creating the story arc:

                    a.) Introduction

                    • “My name (real or nickname or fake – doesn’t matter)”
                    • “I’m the lead developer of XYZ company”
                    • “I’m not part of some ‘big fancy firm'”
                    • “I had my first “real” job, hated it, decided to form my own company doing what I love.”

                    b.) How to build comfort and familiarity

                    • Pretend that you’re talking to them over a lunch meeting. Be cool and at ease.
                    • “I see you’re working on a _______ type of website. That’s really cool because _________(Insert relevant personal experience, even if it’s a stretch. It’s all about creating a compelling story.)”
                    • Use customer research and feedback they’ve given to other freelancers to casually talk about some of your desirable characteristics—use exact wording from their profile page if possible. Go through several reviews.

                    For instance, if you go to the client’s profile page and see something like THIS:

                    Advertising

                    Screen Shot 2013-04-30 at 12.37.06 PM

                      You might want to Say something like THIS in your narrative:

                      “I guess one of the things we love best about doing this type of work is getting clients ‘unstuck’. Sometimes you just need reliable pros who really undertand your needs to step in and get amazing work done quickly. That’s the name of the game here at XYZ. We want to make working together again a no-brainer!”

                      As you can see, the bold text shows where I used the client’s exact wording again in the pitch process. With this type of language, you don’t even need to sell them; you’re speaking to them in their own voice.

                      c.) Benefits and invitation to learn more:

                      The idea of the entire process is a “soft sell”. You’ll never mention pricing or any type of money in the initial pitch. You must create the value first.

                      After you’ve noted the specific features they are looking for in their site, make sure to mention that we excel at those things, and a handful of others when appropriate. I like to use rich, colorful product descriptions to really make people feel the pull. You can mention things like:

                      • “All the sites we build are fully responsive for all devices”
                      • “Breathtaking, beautiful custom CSS (or PHP/Java/whatever is appropriate for the posting)”
                      • “Easy-to-manage CMS that requires little maintenance”
                      • “SEO/Conversion-optimized”
                      • Anything else that fits with the scope of their project that we can fulfill. Keep it ethical, but don’t hold back.
                      • Use descriptive words like: “beautiful, flowing, clean, responsive, sexy, stunning” and paint the picture.

                      As you close, keep the lines of communication open and leave the ball in their court by saying things like:

                      • “Let’s keep the conversation going—I’d love to hear more about what you’re working on.”
                      • Even if we don’t end up working together, maybe I can help point you in the right direction or answer some questions. I’m at the computer all day anyway!”
                      • “Thanks for sharing some screen time with me—I look forward to talking soon.”

                      As you get better, you’ll develop your own style; this is just a framework.

                      This type of soft close usually gets at least some feedback and you can feel them out to see if they are good to work with. It also comes off as very secure—you’re not begging for the job here. By suggesting that you are completely comfortable with helping “even if we don’t end up working together” it makes you sound like you don’t need to do the work; you just want to.

                      Below are 3 different examples of successful pitches I’ve made that resulted in sales of over $1,000 each. Some of these videos run a little long, but each video should only be between 2:30 and 3:30 max! I’ve become so effective that these days that some of my videos are around 90 seconds long. Remember that it’s not about length, it’s about delivery. Notice the customization and approach I took to understanding the specific clients needs and the personal approach I took by creating a story arc. The goal isn’t to copy what I said, but to think about how you can create something similar using your own story. Remember, no matter what field you’re in, it’s all about creating a relationship with the potential customer.:

                      What your pitch on Elance should look like:

                      At this point you’ve picked out your prospect, done your research and shot the quick video.

                      Here are some samples of how I word the actual proposals in the Elance platform. It’s pretty simple and straight-forward, but I’ve also developed what appears to be a winning formula.

                      sample 2

                        Sometimes you can just keep it simple and get straight to the point, like in this example:

                        proposal-shot-2

                          The negotiation process and the $23,700 results

                          Closing the deals

                          After they contact you, it’s your job to reel them in using the same charismatic personality that attracted them in the first place. They will most likely have one or two of a few common questions. Whatever your specific field of expertise is, think about possible objections from potential clients WAY AHEAD of time. Really put yourself in their shoes and create a “If they say this, I’ll say that” map in your head. Be so ridiculously overprepared to answer objections that they’re left completely awestruck and ready to buy.

                          Here are the 3 most common barriers I ran into trying to close the deal.

                          1.) Client: “I see you’re new on Elance—are you a new company?”

                          “We’re not a new company; we get most of our business from referrals stemming from our old jobs in corporate, but we’ve decided to branch out and try online platforms like Elance. This isn’t our first rodeo.”

                          Insert some details from the personalized story you told in your intro video, then refer them back to the portfolio website and reassure them that your work is awesome.

                          2.) Client: “Why should I pick you when I can get the work outsourced for cheaper?”

                          Advertising

                          It can be a shorter variation of this, but this is how I explain it:

                          “You’re right, we’re not the cheapest firm on Elance, and we battle with getting our legs cut out from under us every single day by good firms in India and Asia who do the work for a fraction of a price. If you’re in a bind and you’re basing your decision solely on price, we might not be the right fit for you, but we see design a little differently. To us, creating a design is like two people working on a painting at the same time: both of you want the painting to come out looking like a masterpiece, both of you want to create something beautiful… but there’s a huge communication gap there. After all, you are two very different people, with different visions. Yes, we’re masters at design work, but where we really excel, where we really shine, is taking your ideas and interpreting them—understanding them and translating them onto the page, using our expertise, so that the end result looks like it came not from two people, but directly from your imagination. It’s almost as if we’re an extension of your creativity, not just outside numbskulls fumbling to get things right. I don’t think you can expect that perspective from anybody who is going to lowball you.”

                          3.) Dealing with further price resistance

                          If they are still hesitant to purchase at the lowest price you offer (mine is $750 rock bottom), be understanding and little flexible, while still demonstrating your confidence. This is a sample script I’ve used in the past:

                          “Typically speaking we work in a “our price is our price” type of mindset. This has come from a few years of working with dozens of different individuals and organizations who want all want the same service (design, implementation, optimization) and the same high level of service, but all at different prices.

                          It get’s very tricky and in the end 1 of 2 things usually happens: either you start becoming too “flexible” with your prices, stop considering time/effort and end up working yourself into the $12/hour bracket with ten low budget projects OR you do essentially the same services for two different people, while charging one person $500 and the next person $1000, and those people talk.

                          Not good.

                          Because of that, we are pretty firm. Our base price is always $995. We’d add the Elance fees of 8.75% on to that to protect our costs.

                          Now, that being said, I know you’re a startup, don’t have unlimited cash and need to get the most value for your money. I also appreciate you considering us because, let’s face it: there a lot of people overseas willing to do this work cheaply, although that cheapness would probably show! Totally get it.

                          So, we would be willing to break the price up and space out payments to lessen the financial burden on you over a period over a period of 4-6 weeks in installments.”

                          Bottom line: you have to be the same person in your messages that you were in your video. Upbeat, engaged, causal.

                          The results:

                          I’ve been getting as high as a 70% response rate from prospective clients using all the elements above, and this is a very good thing. Since there are so many people applying for many of these jobs, it is a good sign just to be contacted.

                          Over the course of a month, I was able to land 7 jobs, one of which was a $15,000 retainer just to do occasional touch ups. All in all, I cleared about $24,000. I kept meticulous track of how the proposals were working, so that I could track and tweak. After a certain point, I had to stop taking clients because the workload was too high. Here’s a shot of my Excel sreadsheet from the first 2 weeks. I may not have always booked the job, but even getting a response means I’m doing the right thing:

                          Screen Shot 2013-05-22 at 6.39.08 PM

                            The Takeaway

                            So what did I learn from all this?

                            First, I learned the value of testing, testing, testing. When you’re trying to diagnose a problem with a system, it’s literally impossible to guess the right course of action by just staring at the outside machinery. You have to dig deep and probe the inner workings so that you can validate your assumptions. If something doesn’t work, tweak it.

                            Finally, I was reminded how powerful human interaction can be. In the sea of noise and confusion that is the internet, it’s still very possible to get noticed and, as a result, make a living. Usually the only way to do this is to spark an interaction that leads to a relationship. Video is a simple way to leverage that.

                            I hope this guide serves you well. There’s plenty of room out there for all of us, so get to work!

                            Your opportunity: how to use this information

                            Well, the first obvious way you can use this information is just to copy what I did. If you use this method on Elance, or in any other remote freelance capacity, it WILL WORK. I’ve gotten enough responses from readers and friends to validate this.

                            I also want you to think about the bigger questions that this raises, however, and how they apply to you:

                            • Is there an untapped resource inside you that has value, that other people will pay for? If you haven’t tried to leverage it before, why not?
                            • How could you implement simple tests like the ones above to determine if your idea is viable?
                            • What simple step can you take TOMORROW to get your first test up and running?
                            • Are you ready to seize your opportunity immediately and stop waiting for somebody to give you permission to start your own shit?

                            Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

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                            Last Updated on July 10, 2020

                            The Definitive Guide to Get out of Debt Fast (and Forever)

                            The Definitive Guide to Get out of Debt Fast (and Forever)

                            Debt can feel crushing, like a weight that is always weighing you down. Looking at those numbers, it can feel as if you’ll never get out from under it. However, if you really want to learn how to get out of debt, it is possible with a great deal of focus and self-control.

                            Getting out of debt isn’t impossible. Like any big goal, all that it takes is an action plan to identify where you are and creating a plan to zero out your debt.

                            Identifying All of Your Debts

                            The first part of paying off your debt is getting a complete picture of what you owe. When you have everything written out in front of you, it makes it much easier to create an action plan. Depending on how much you owe, it might also help you realize it’s not as bad you might have originally thought.

                            Here’s how you can get started identifying your debts:

                            1. Own Your Debt

                            Before you start identifying all of your debts, take a moment to process that you have debt but want to get out of it.

                            Forgive yourself for any past mistakes, missed payments, or overspending. It might be painful to accept how much debt you have at first, but you must own it.

                            2. Make a Debt Tracker

                            It’s astonishing how few people ever created a tracker to understand their total debts. Most likely, it comes from not wanting to accept the guilt of having debt, but, if avoided, it can make it nearly impossible to get out of debt.

                            Open up a new Google or Microsoft Excel sheet and list out all of your debts. Start with the name of the creditor, interest rates, total balance, loan term length (if any), and the minimum amount due each payment. This will include student loans, credit cards, and any other type of debt owed.

                            3. Get Your Debt Number

                            Once you’ve made your debt tracker and taken the other steps, identify your total payoff number. This is crucial, as you will have a starting point and a clear goal that you are trying to achieve.

                            Prioritizing Your Debts

                            All debt is not created equal. It’s imperative to understand that there are different types of debt.

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                            1. Understand Bad and Good Debts

                            Bad debts are usually paying for things you want instead of always need. While there might be some emergencies that max out your credit cards, often times it’s excessive spending[1].

                            There are three main types of bad debt:

                            • Credit Card Debt: The average American household owes over $16,000 in credit card debt!
                            • Auto Loan Debt: According to CNBC , the average auto loan in the US is $30,032!
                            • Consumer Loan Debt: Consumer loan debt isn’t as common as credit card and auto loan debt, but it’s still considered bad as interest rates are usually between 10-28%.

                            Good debt is identified as investments in your future. Here are three common types of good debt:

                            • Student Loan Debt
                            • Mortgage Loan
                            • Business Loans

                            2. Decide Which Debt to Pay off First

                            Once you know each type of debt and their interest rates, you can begin to pay off debt quickly.

                            Focus on paying off bad debt first, regardless of if it is a credit card or auto loan. Start by paying off the loan with the highest interest rate first.

                            If you have several credit cards with different interest rates, you want to focus on the one with a higher APR. You will actually save more money by eliminating the card with the highest interest rate.

                            3. Don’t Pay the Minimum Amount

                            Paying the minimum amount digs you into a hole as interest rates will offset your payment. Even a small amount more than the minimum can help you pay off debt much faster.

                            Removing Obstacles to Pay off Debt Quickly

                            Creating a debt tracker and prioritizing a plan is simple, but avoiding temptation can be difficult.

                            1. Set a Reminder to Track Your Debt

                            “If you can’t measure it you can’t manage it.” -Peter Drucker

                            It’s so important to track your debt to ensure that you get it paid off quickly. Similar to working out and measuring your results, you need to track your debt constantly. Start with a weekly reminder, where you sign on and log your updated number. Did you increase, decrease, or stay the same?

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                            Regularly tracking your student loan balance can be incredibly motivating, as well. You will get a huge confidence boost each time you see your total debt amount decreases.

                            Set weekly and monthly goals so you can have short term wins and keep the momentum going.

                            2. Hide Your Credit Cards

                            If your biggest debt is credit cards, you need to eliminate temptation and remove them from your wallet.

                            Some people have gone to extreme measures by freezing their credit cards. Why? This would create an ice block around your card, which would require you to chip away at it slowly. This will give you time to think if it’s the best idea to buy that thing you’re about to buy.

                            3. Automate Everything

                            Willpower can be a huge downfall to paying off your debt. By automating your bills each month, you will ensure that willpower isn’t involved.

                            4. Plan Ahead

                            Getting out of debt will require some sacrifices, but with enough planning, you can make it work.

                            For example, if you know that you have a friend’s birthday or family dinner coming up, plan ahead for the costs. Whether you need to cut back on spending the week before, pick up a side job, or meet them after dinner, do what is needed.

                            5. Live Cheaply

                            The only way to get out of debt is to make some sacrifices on your spending habits. Find ways to save money each month so you can apply that amount to your outstanding debts. Here are some ways to save money each month:

                            • Live with roommates
                            • Cook dinners and prepare lunches for work instead of eating out
                            • Cut cable and choose Netflix or Amazon Prime
                            • Take public transit or bike to work

                            Finding the Lowest Interest Rates

                            The higher your interest rates, the harder (and longer) it will take you to pay off any debt.

                            If possible, you want to find ways to lower your interest rates to help get out of debt quickly. Here’s how you can get started:

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                            1. Maintain a High Credit Score

                            Your credit score will have a large impact on your ability to refinance your loans and receive a lower interest rate. If you have a low credit score, it’s unlikely you will be able to refinance your loans. Use these credit tips to increase and maintain an excellent score:

                            • Never miss a payment
                            • Don’t exceed 30% of your credit limit
                            • Don’t sign up for more than one card at once
                            • Limit hard inquires, like auto-loans and new credit cards
                            • Monitor frequently with free credit-tracking software

                            2. Find Balance Transfer Offers

                            Start by opening a free account on credit.com. Credit.com offers you the chance to open a free account and see what type of balance transfer offers you can receive. Some of your existing credit cards might already have 0% or lower APR balance transfer offers available.

                            Contact each of your credit card providers to ask about lowering your rate for a one-time balance transfer offer[2].

                            If you do take advantage of this option, make sure that you use a balance transfer and not a cash advance. Cash advances have a ton of high interest fees (15-25%, depending on your credit card) and will only compound your debt problem.

                            How to Get Rid of Debt Forever

                            Setting up a plan, removing temptations, and getting the lowest interest rates is the first step to get out of debt.

                            1. Keep Monitoring and Adjusting

                            Once you have a plan, don’t get comfortable. Track your debt payoff plan and make the necessary adjustments when needed.

                            Monitor your credit scores with a free site like CreditKarma. The higher your credit score climbs, the more likely you will be to secure a new, lower-interest loan.

                            2. Earn More Money

                            There are only so many ways to save money. Instead of clipping another coupon or making sacrifices for your morning coffee, find ways to earn more money!

                            Think about it…it is much easier to find ways to earn an extra $1,000 per month than find $1,000 to cut from your budget.

                            Here are some examples of ways to earn more money:

                            Advertising

                            Talk to Your Boss

                            Have a conversation with your boss about current salary and/or commission rates. If you’re not satisfied or want a change, don’t be afraid to look around at other positions. Some of them might even have a student loan debt reimbursement plan!

                            Start a Side Hustle

                            This could be coaching students on the weekends, driving for Uber, or taking paid online surveys. There are tons of ways to make money outside your 9-5. Now that you have a clear plan to pay off your debts, you’ll be more motivated than ever to figure out creative new ways to earn money.

                            Build an Online Business

                            There are so many websites and blogs that earn money from ads, affiliates, and other online products. Find your niche and get started.

                            3. Celebrate Your Wins

                            As you progress in your debt payoff journey, don’t forget to celebrate your wins. You need to always reward yourself for the hard work and discipline that is required to get out of debt.

                            While you shouldn’t celebrate so big that it increases debt, make sure to factor in little rewards to keep you motivated.

                            4. Set New Financial Goals

                            Eventually, with a plan and these steps, you can rid yourself of your debt. Once you do, make sure to celebrate your monumental achievement, but don’t stop there.

                            Now, you can focus on acquiring wealth and increasing your net worth. Set new financial goals so you have a new target to aim toward. Here’s how to set financial goals and actually meet them.

                            These could be anything now that you are debt free! Think about where you want to travel, buying your first home, or saving for your future retirement. Just like before, make sure that your goals are specific, measurable, and achievable.

                            Conclusion

                            Congrats, you can now set a plan in motion to finally pay off your debt quickly (and hopefully forever)!

                            Remember, if you want to get out of debt quickly, it’s not always easy. Just like any big goal, there will be sacrifices, challenges, and problems to overcome.

                            More Tips on Getting out of Debt

                            Featured photo credit: Pepi Stojanovski via unsplash.com

                            Reference

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